Crafts show draws artists, inspiration from around the world

The 27th Annual Arts and Crafts Show featured artists of various mediums.
Mallorye Gravelle looks at Mark Feja's colorful fish, created out of coconuts from Florida, during the 27th Annual Fall Arts and Crafts Show on Sunday at the Hearnes Center. Feja was one of hundreds of crafters who migrated to Columbia to display their work.

The 27th Annual Arts and Crafts Show at the Hearnes Center drew a diversity of vendors, including the creative, the charitable and the simply outlandish.

Although each artist had a distinctive style, trends were present at the fair. At least three stands sold baby tutus, many sold handmade jewelry and others specialized in candles or scented oils.

Allison Dreyer’s table stood out from the Christmas decorations made from gourds and sweaters for dogs because of the humanitarian theme of its merchandise. The proceeds from Dreyer’s crafts, such as T-shirts, soda tab bracelets and picture frames, benefit a 2011 mission trip to Kenya with Fishers of Men Ministries.

“Last year, the group was able to buy the kids beds that didn’t have beds in the orphanage,” Dreyer said. “They go over there to see the need, and then they go back to present it to other organizations to try to raise money for these things.”

Ola Fey Turner had one of several woodworking tables. Turner sold wooden bowls crafted by her husband, Larry, who took up the hobby three years ago after retiring from a 30-year career of farming and raising buffalo.

“He had always wanted to work with wood, and he wasn’t able to do it until he retired,” Turner said. “So, when he retired he bought a wood lathe and started doing it.”

The Turners’ bowls came in a surprising variety of shapes, sizes and styles. Each had a refined yet rustic feel, sometimes with a touch of bark. The materials for the bowls come from wood her husband finds on their land, and a large bowl can take up to 16 hours to make.

The Ghattas brothers also specialize in woodworking. The family exhibited remarkable craftsmanship in its most coveted pieces — religious relics crafted from authentic olive wood from the holy land.

The figurines included crucifixes and nativities completed with elegant intricacies. The Ghattas sold a number of nativity scenes, including a large piece that also functioned as a music box for $225. Another piece was a hand-carved, wooden rendition of the last supper, fashioned from a single piece of wood.

Although the show exhibited a wide variety of mediums, Judy Meyer was one of few glass artists. Meyer’s masterpieces are eccentric vases made from glass slumped in a kiln to create an abstract shape with muted colors streaked in high concentration throughout the piece. Meyer has been working with glass since the '90s.

“I started out with flat pieces of stained glass and then went to the fusing hot glass, and I just enjoy it,” Meyer said.

But arguably the most bizarre artist of the bunch was Mark Feja, who identifies himself as “coconut fish guy” and his work as “something fishy.” Feja created coconuts with fins, teeth and eyes often painted in an array of flamboyant colors. Each fish is made entirely from costal plants, except for the plastic eyes and screws needed to hold the artwork together.

The craftsman travels to Florida to gather supplies and then travels all across Missouri selling his creations.

“No TV, no phone, no computer,” Feja said of his artistic lifestyle.

Many artists return to the show year after year.

“Last year was our first time, and we’ve already paid for next year,” Turner said.

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